When we think of the “meet-cute” we think of Harry meeting Sally on a bickering road trip from Chicago to New York, Annie Hall stumbling over her words talking to Alvie in the tennis clubhouse, or (an underrated one in my opinion) when professional bank robber Jack meets US Marshal Karen in the trunk of a car. (That one’s “Out of Sight”, by the way.) The meet-cute is one of the oldest conventions in Hollywood – it’s something that audiences expect and even crave – which is why its crucial to deliver a strong one that hits all the right buttons. The rom-com lives or dies by the meet-cute. But you know what else does? The buddy-cop action comedy. Brushing off the meet-cute as just a chick-flick gimmick is one of the biggest mistakes you can make.
Think about when Danny Glover’s Murtaugh meets Mel Gibson’s Riggs in “Lethal Weapon”. Murtaugh mistakes Riggs as a person off the street, pulling a gun in the police station and runs to disarm him—only to be flipped onto his back by Riggs himself. Murtaugh, on the floor and winded, immediately finds out that this man is his new partner. Sure, it’s not a romantic comedy, but isn’t that meeting just as important as the meetings in the aforementioned romantic movies? And isn’t that meeting cute in a clever way? The meeting, and the relationship that follows, works because it hits all the right notes. The short scene serves as a lesson for writers trying to capture the same spark.